Northampton

Northamptonshire Council plans £4m children's service cut

One Angel Square, Northamptonshire County Council HQ
Image caption Northamptonshire County Council has announced £23.2m worth of cuts in its draft budget for next year.

A council has proposed a £4m cut to its children's services that was described as "failing" by Ofsted.

The move is part of £23.2m of savings made by Northamptonshire County Council in its draft budget for 2020-21.

It will be the last budget before the council, along with district and borough councils, will be replaced by two unitary authorities in April 2021.

Council leader Matt Golby said: "A tremendous amount of work has taken place to stabilise the finances."

The Conservative-run council's children's services was rated "inadequate" by Ofsted inspectors in July.

Earlier this year, two serious case reviews found it had failed to protect two murdered children in 2017 and 2018.

This year's budget saw a spending increase of £1.2m on children's services.

Image caption Matt Golby said the budget was designed to "start making the way" for two new unitary authorities

In 2018 the council was twice banned from new expenditure due to the cash crisis which led to the proposed formation of the two new unitary authorities.

Mr Golby said the draft budget aimed to "build financial robustness" and "develop more sustainable services".

But Mick Scrimshaw from the council's Labour opposition said there had been "issues" over "forecasting, and the robustness of savings proposals".

"We have to delve down and see what devil is in the detail," he added.

The draft budget also includes a £12.9m cut from adult services and a staff pay increase of 4%.

The authority hoped to increase council tax by 3.99%, including a 2% social care precept.

The proposals will be discussed by the council's cabinet next week, before going to public consultation.

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